Historic building serving African-American community in northern Springfield hit by vandals


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – A historic building in north-central Springfield has been hit by vandals.

The Bartley-Decatur Neighborhood Center has served the African American community for generations.

Now he’s been tagged with what some see as racial slurs.

Bartley-Decatur Neighborhood Center President Mark Dixon asked, “I have no idea why people would do this. Is it hate? “

He was made aware of the graffiti on Wednesday afternoon.

Walls, windows and even surveillance cameras are painted in bright colors.

“If it was just vandalism, crime or something like that, that would be one thing. But with the epithet, it just puts a whole different tone on it. Quite devastated. It’s more than a building, much more than a building, ”he said.

First built as a residential home in the early 1900s, the building has evolved into a health care center for the African-American community in Springfield.

“Back when segregation was the rule for public housing, hospitals, schools, etc., this was the place. It was also known as the Negro clinic. That was it. A good friend of mine, his mother, who is now 80, was literally born here. He has real, deep roots, ”Dixon explained.

Over the years, the building was also used as a retirement home and ultimately as a veterans’ home for African Americans.

It was later converted into a daycare center operated by Roberta Bartley and her sister Olive Decatur. The couple were teachers at Lincoln School during segregation.

More recently, 10 years ago, it was reassigned again and transformed into a resource center named after the women.

Dixon says that while his heart is broken, this recent act of vandalism will not stop the centre’s mission.

“This building has served, primarily the African American community and more recently the combined African American and Hispanic community, for over a hundred years.

We plan to be here for the next hundred people serving these little girls and boys, giving them hope, a sense of self-pride and achievement with every step they take. This is what it is about, ”he said.

Dixon hopes those responsible will surrender and apologize.

A police report has been filed.

Right now, he says, they are working to find a way to repair the damage.

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